kid vernacular

During the month of June, I took a holiday-- mental and physical. I decided to put my current WIP on the shelf and enjoy my family while the kids were off of school. I didn't even cook! We ate sandwiches, pancakes, lots of fruit and yoghurt, and ate out. There were a few days I conceded and threw some veg and meat into a crockpot so my kids wouldn't succumb to scurvy, but I made a pointed effort to relax.

It was wonderful to be in a new environment and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by kids aged 10 to 12. My oldest is 8 and I often think she must speak pretty much like a 10 year old, but I was wrong. Being around my niece and nephew gave me an entirely new insight into kids this age and how they speak. I even asked my sister in law to e-mail me my nephew's history report because I found his writing and ideas to be an invaluable tool for me to use in my writing.

When you write for kids and you start to do any kind of research, the first thing you're going to find is advice to go to a school or library or playground and listen to kids in your targeted age group talk. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote in an interview about her books SPEAK that she actually spent a lot of time in Taco Bell to get a grasp of how high schoolers spoke.

Because I have four of my own kids (and, consequently, so does L.H.A.) and we have a revolving front door, I thought I could just tone up what I hear every day, but that's not accurate. There is a distinct difference between 8 and 10. My 8 year old is quite mature and articulate, but there is still a subtle level of nuance that is hard to explain, but it exists. I even got to read some text messages between my niece and her friend (my sis-n-law and I agreed this was acceptable because it was on my sis-n-law's phone after all...).

Then, today I came across this article from the BBC: What We Can Learn from Children's Writing. We learn not only how they speak, but what really interests them. The article continues to point out the obvious differences between boys and girls and the details they include or exclude, but I think it's important to note that kids have a keen ability to infer. They make up their own words and they construct imaginative similes. Kids are also totally hilarious and amazingly honest.

My hope is that I can incorporate all this into my own writing.


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